More Than 115 Million Americans are Now Using Credit Unions. Should You Join Them?

If you don't know the difference between a bank and a credit union, you're in good company. Many Americans do business with banks unaware that they could be reaping the benefits of credit union membership.

Confusion over credit unions abounds. Many people falsely believe that they must belong to the military or work for the government to join them, or that their savings will not be insured the same way they are in a bank savings account, but that's not the case. Joining a credit union is simple. Most credit unions serve a common field of membership based on characteristics like a geographical area, employer, membership in an organization, or family relationships.

According to the Credit Union National Association, in April 2018, there were 115.3 million Americans using one of the 5,757 credit unions in the US. That's 45.4% of the banking population.

Banks and credit unions are both financial institutions that offer savings and checking accounts to people and lend money out for homes, cars, and other needs. While banks are for-profit entities designed to benefit stockholders, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist solely to serve their members.

The cooperative structure of a credit union means that they are owned and controlled by the people, known as members, who use their services. A volunteer board of directors –who are also members – are elected by the whole to oversee a credit union. Dollars invested in a credit union are reinvested in the membership, so one member's savings becomes another member's loan, helping someone in their own community.

"There are numerous advantages to this cooperative model and doing business with a credit union," says Scott Woods, CEO of South Carolina Federal Credit Union, the oldest locally owned financial institution in the tri-county. He explains, "Credit unions are structured entirely for the purpose of helping members achieve greater financial stability.”



Banking is easy at South Carolina Federal Credit Union, with 20 convenient financial centers, 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs worldwide and hassle-free online services. South Carolina Federal offers many of the same convenient services as big banks, like online bill paying, mobile alerts, remote check deposits and card monitoring.

Member Craig Ascue says, "Any financial guru will tell you that you have to have a relationship with a credit union. And South Carolina Federal is the one to bank with."

South Carolina Federal was founded in 1936 by 14 Charleston Naval Shipyard employees. With 165,000 members and $1.7 billion in deposits, South Carolina Federal is one of the region's largest and most successful credit unions. Doing business with South Carolina Federal is simple and convenient for people from all walks of life.

Named best financial institution by readers of the Charleston City Paper, Charleston Living magazine, the Berkeley Independent, the Summerville Journal-Scene and a host of others, South Carolina Federal is proud to be highly recommended by local members. Infusing over $400,000 into our communities through matched employee donations and corporate contributions, South Carolina Federal is committed to making a difference in the communities it serves.

For more information, or to open an account, call 843-797-8300, visit online at, make an appointment, or stop in at your nearest financial center.